Arizona Wine Lovers Welcome a Hero
How does a region completely unheralded for wine become better known as a source of high quality wines? It’s generally a very slow process that includes a steady increase in acres under vine, the move from planting obscure to better known varietals, support from locals and finally some sort of acknowledgement of the wines’ quality from a reputable source.
But wouldn’t it help if one of America’s most famous vintners suddenly showed up in a state where vineyards were practically unheard of and announced they were going to grow grapes and make wine?
That’s exactly what’s happened in Arizona.
Dick Erath, owner of Erath Vineyards in Oregon and practically the "father" of that state’s Pinot Noir revolution, has purchased 200 acres in Wilcox, Arizona, about 90 miles east of Tucson. Apparently Erath will plant southern Rhone varietals as well as other warm weather grapes.
It’s quite an endorsement…the kind that brings immediate attention to a region. Of course, it’s not difficult to increase the stature or attention for Arizona wines. Last year Arizona produced only around 15,000 cases of wine.
Still, you’ve got to understand why Arizona wine lovers and vintners are happy about the development. Erath is one of the few "Idol Status" winemakers in America who can truly be called a pioneer and visionary. He falls into the same category as Robert Mondavi, Paul Draper, Walter Schug, and only a few others.
It will fun to watch this project develop over the years.